Friday, October 28, 2011

Occupy Oakland Lives!

Wow, I don't really know where to begin.
This was a crazy fuckin week.
On Sunday, my wife performed her music at the Occupy Oakland Children's Village, and my son decided to take home a piece of lego home with him. When I saw it, I said that I'd have to return it to the camp on Monday.
Unfortunately, I was feeling sick on Monday, and worked from home. By the time I woke up on Tuesday morning, it was already too late to return the piece of lego.
The camp had been destroyed.
I went downtown and saw the damage.
It was horrible.
Riot cops surrounded Oscar Grant Plaza, which looked like a tornado had ripped through it. Banners had been torn down, tents had been trampled, and almost everything was covered in tear gas residue. It was a truly depressing site.
I thought to myself that this was the saddest day in American history.
Somehow, I went to work for a couple of hours, but came back to 14th and Broadway at midday. The scene was even more tense than it had been in the morning. Many campers who hadn't been arrested were there, as were many others who disapproved of the cops' presence.
After work, I joined the march leaving the main library on its way downtown.
The scene when the march first squared off against the police line at 14th & Broadway and chanted "Oscar Grant! Oscar Grant!" can only be described as amazing.
Then later in the night, this happened.

The cops shot some guy in the face with a tear gas cannister, and then when people came to help him, another cop threw a grenade at them.
That pretty much guaranteed that that was the saddest day in American history. Not just because of Scott Olsen, but because of Occupy Oakland. Scott was the cherry bomb on top.
Occupy Oakland, just like its hometown, is like no other in the world.
Wired and amplified even.
It provided services for the city's neediest residents that the city was unable/unwilling to provide. Jobs, food, shelter, heath care, community, and electricity. More importantly, it provided meaning for the city's neediest.
It had to be destroyed, because it represented something completely new and radically different.
It represented the future.
Everyone in, no one left out.
This is what democracy looks like.

Mayor Jean Quan really did have a grass roots background, and she really did betray it. She let someone else do her job for her. She is an Oaklander who kept it real, and it was a horrible mistake, but she has a chance to make things right and make history in the process. We'll see where she goes from here.
The day after her police force shot and teargassed and grenaded a thousand of her constituents, three thousand showed up the next night to reclaim Oscar Grant Plaza. There were no cops, and the fence surrounding the grassy area was easily dismantled and made into geometric sculptures. A general strike was agreed upon for November 2. Mayor Quan waited to speak, but was booed back into the confines of the building.
The Occupation continued.